Negotiating Your Future

How to Get the Best Compensation Package

Wendy Abdo and Craig Fowler
Staff Writers
PhysicianCareer.com

You like the opportunity! Both you and the medical facility have agreed to enter into negotiations—the most delicate and difficult part of the hiring process. Are you ready for it and have you done your research? Worse yet, do you find yourself foundering while trying to compare several different job options?

To prepare yourself for the impending tidal wave of paperwork and legalese and ensure that you are getting the best possible compensation package, be sure to do the following:

The Specialty Marketplace

Determine what the going rate is for your specialty. Don’t just go by what you are making now or what your family and friends think you should earn. You could currently be over or underpaid. Research the latest compensation surveys such as those put out periodically by the MGMA, AMGA, and other recruitment and consultant firms. The more surveys you can consult, the better. This will enable you to feel more confident in negotiating the right salary. However, this is not the only aspect you should research.

The Regional Marketplace

Another facet of salary research deals with where the opportunity is located. Some salary surveys such as the MGMA’s Physician Compensation and Production Survey, actually breaks down each specialty into four major U. S. regions: Eastern, Midwest, Southern, and Western. This can prove very helpful to physicians who are comparing salaries in different areas of the United States. Yet, this can even be broken down further.

As a rule, positions in rural communities with a defined need will pay much more than positions in larger metropolises. This is because medical organizations in larger cities have more physician candidates from which to choose. If you decide to relocate to a larger city, you are trading a higher salary for the location. To find out exactly how much others in your specialty are making in a particular city or community, try speaking with your peers in that area.

The Value of Perks and Benefits

Salary isn’t the only thing to look at when weighing your contract. Bonuses, benefits, and other perks can score high marks, especially if they are hard-to-find in the job market. You can be offered outstanding 401K and pension plans. There is a wide array of insurances such as life, health, dental, and disability, not to mention lucrative production and incentive bonuses that are well worth it, even if the base salary is somewhat lower than the norm. Another attractive option might be a flexible workweek or a reduced or non-existent call schedule.

These benefits must not be ignored. Oftentimes, a prospective employer may not be able to offer a large base salary but will bend over backwards in providing you with attractive benefits.

Compare Apples-to-Apples

What job offers do you currently have and how do they compare to the ones you are negotiating for now? You must make sure you are measuring up each opportunity properly. For instance, Opportunity A might offer a higher initial salary, but Opportunity B has a better payor mix. Further, if you are looking for flexible hours, Opportunity A may require you to work 50 hours a week and take 1:2 call while Opportunity B requires only 40 hours a week and no call.

A Helpful Comparison Tool

Are you still having a tough time comparing opportunities? Below is a weighted averaging tool you can use to help objectively determine what job offer will be the best overall value to you.*

Opportunity Comparison Table

Opportunity A Opportunity B Opportunity C
Important Features Weights Rating Weighted Value Rating Weighted Value Rating Weighted Value
Salary 50% 4 2.00 3 1.50 3 1.50
Location 25% 2 0.50 2 0.50 3 0.75
Working Environment 15% 1 0.15 4 0.60 1 0.15
Benefits 10% 2 0.20 4 0.40 1 0.10
Totals 100% 2.85 3.00 2.50
* Weights above are listed for example only; you should weigh your own priorities in evaluation of opportunities.
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